The Black Angels Fitzgerald's, May 24
Austin's Black Angels, with a band name pulled straight from the Velvet Underground's catalog, and a high-contrast image of Nico splayed across their logo, are unapologetic in their admiration of the prophetic NYC rock band. The Angels, though, have carved out a sound quite their own, which they've dubbed "Native American Drone-N-Roll."
Using an excess of throbbing bass, droney reverb, and spacey, hypnotic undertones, they've not only earned critical acclaim, but also hopped on tour with the Black Keys, Queens of the Stone Age and Wolfmother, just to name-drop a few fans. ANGELICA LEICHT
Soundgarden Bayou Music Center, May 24
Soundgarden has aged remarkably well. For a band that took a long nap between 1996's Down On the Upside and last year's King Animal, the reunited Seattle crew has bridged those 15-plus years with remarkable continuity.
King Animal is very much the same Soundgarden of grunge touchstones Louder Than Love and Badmotorfinger, with guitarist Thayil's psych-dusted leads welded to a Sabbath-esque grind while bassist Ben Shepherd and drummer Matt Cameron man the hammer and tongs. Singer Chris Cornell, meanwhile, can still open up his throat and shred his vocal chords better than your average banshee, and makes a most distinguished rock heartthrob in his late forties. CHRIS GRAY
Little River Band Dosey Doe (Big Barn), May 24
With four freakin' decades of mid-tempo Australian rock to their name, Little River Band may be one of the most significant Aussie bands to cross over to the U.S. charts. Led by vocal mastermind Glenn Shorrock, they've been dubbed Down Under's first real breakthrough act in the American market, and by hocking their bicoastal brand of adult-contemporary music -- with its catchy hooks, velvety harmonies, and a bit of understated guitar -- they've also been recognized as having one of the Top 30 Australian songs of all time, a little ditty called "Cool Change." ANGELICA LEICHT
Hall & Oates Arena Theatre, May 25
Besides making a perfect punchline to the joke "Why did the farmer start a punk-rock band?" (he was tired of haulin' oats, y'see), Darryl Hall and John Oates stand as one of the most successful and influential pop/R&B duos of the past 40 years.
Combining a lot of their native Philly soul -- Hall did a crucial apprenticeship at Gamble & Huff's famous Philadelphia International Records -- a little Motown, and some pop smarts, Hall & Oates have crafted a soundtrack to proms, first dates, supermarkets and umpteen movies and TV shows that even now is practically unrivaled in its soft-rock supremacy. "Maneater," "Say It Isn't So," "I Can't Go For That," "Rich Girl" "Private Eyes," "Sara Smile," and so forth - the list just goes on and on and on. CHRIS GRAY
Houston Punk History Lesson Walters, May 25
Author and sometime Rocks Off contributor David Ensminger is both a longtime Houston punk rock musician and actual college professor, so he's always worth listening to. (We miss you, man.) Saturday he's assembled what amounts to a history of Houston punk as it was channeled into three local venues - The Island, Agora Ballroom and The Omni - like light through a prism. "Before punk morphed into metal-hardcore hybrids, the term meant anything-goes, musically," Ensminger explained to us recently via email. "These bands represent the wide-open years of experimentation and exploration."
Saturday he's recruited alumni of all three venues such as Beatless, Bevatron and MyDolls, as well as Solid Waste Divison, as well as the latest projects of scene vets Gary Yokie (The Ruse) and Mary McGee (Wild Bores) and DJ LP offering an appropriately freewheeling soundtrack from the era. Doors open at 7 p.m., cover is $10, and you might even find yourself being interviewed for an upcoming documentary. CHRIS GRAY
EIGHT OTHER SHOWS YOU MIGHT CONSIDER By Chris Gray
Jody Seabody & the Whirls, Darwin's Finches: Fun night of underrated, hard-to-pigeonhole local alt-rock bands, with Tump, Solar Temple and a performance of Twisted Misfits. (Super Happy Fun Land, May 24)
Allison Fisher Band: Sexy, swinging pop, jazz and R&B, heavy on the Texas stuff. (Big Top Lounge, May 24)
Dale Watson: Truck-drivin' Texas honky-tonk, yes sir. (Blanco's, May 24)
The Mighty Orq: Longtime Houston blues-guitar hotshot has a new album on the way and a free show tonight. (Shakespeare Pub, May 24)
Grupo Fantasma: A highlight of Austin's recent Pachanga Latin Music Festival, absolutely free. (Markt Square Park, May 24)
Nightbird: The June 5 Toyota Center show is approaching; this is for all your Fleetwood Mac/Stevie Nicks pregaming. Happy birthday, Stevie! (Concert Pub Galleria, May 25)
Clutch, The Sword, Dixie Witch, American Sharks: Sweatiest Southern rawk/metal show of the weekend, if not the year. (House of Blues, May 25)
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True Believers: Read this week's Houston Press music feature on the reunited Austin rock legends. (Warehouse Live, May 25)